Some avid Google News readers will no doubt notice a brand new feature recently: you will now be rewarded for reading news about a particular topic. Just like Google+, this endeavor is a bold move to bring social features into news reading. Once you click enough article relating to a certain theme on Google News (about a week according to Google), you will earn a Bronze badge for that topic. As time progresses and you keep up reading news on the subject, you will level up to silver, gold and beyond. Here’s a nice video from Google to explain it briefly:
As with most features Google introduces, it will be used to personalize your news. You can add the topic to the left sidebar as well as customizing what content to appear on the home page depending on your tastes. Your badges are set to private by default, but they can be shared with friends on the Google plus network.
Adding achievements into Google News is no doubt an unusual move by Google’s part, but it is certainly inevitable considering Google’s current vision to make the web more social(Google+, Google +1 button, and more).
It’s not without its downsides, though. In order to use this feature, you must have Google Web History enabled, which is considered as an intrusion of privacy for some. Not everyone would like their complete browsing data available online.
The badges are still an early peek at things to come. More features like this will no doubt be rolled out by the end of the year and possibly be integrated into Google+. It’s a speculation, but badges could be part of the rumored Google+’s social game platform; this could be merely a testing ground for the upcoming concept.
Right now, about 500 Google News badges are only available for the U.S. edition of News, but expect them to be available worldwide as time passes. Check out more info about it over at Google’s help page.